HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Lithuania and France will meet for the Eurobasket title, thanks to wins in Friday’s respective semifinals. Lithuania beat Croatia comfortably, while France knocked off Spain in an overtime thriller.
Earlier on Friday, Mike Fratello and Ukraine earned a berth to next year’s World Cup of Basketball with a win over Italy in the loser’s bracket. Ukraine will play Slovenia for sixth place on Saturday, while Italy will face Serbia for Europe’s final automatic berth to the WCOB.
The semifinalists already earned their bids, but they were still playing for big stakes. And Linas Kleiza came up big for Lithuania, registering 22 points and 11 rebounds against Croatia. Jonas Maciulis led all scorers with 23 points, including six during 15-1 run that opened things up in the third quarter.
Spain took control of the other semifinal in the second quarter and led by 14 at halftime, but France slowly fought back and took a brief lead on a Tony Parker 3-pointer with two minutes to go in the fourth. The game was tied in the final minute and both teams had a chance to win it, but Rudy Fernandez made an incredible block on a Parker drive and Jose Calderon‘s 3 in the final seconds was off the mark. Spain then shot 2-for-7 and committed four turnovers in overtime, while France made their free throws down the stretch to pull out a three-point win.
Parker led all scorers with 32 points, with none of his teammates scoring more than 10. Marc Gasol led Spain with 19 points and nine rebounds.
There are two more big games to be played in Slovenia. On Saturday, either Italy or Serbia will be the 20th team in the WCOB field. And on Sunday, either France or Lithuania will be the next Eurobasket champion.
2014 World Cup of Basketball field
|2||USA||2012 Olympic champion|
|3||Iran||FIBA Asia champion|
|4||Philippines||FIBA Asia 2nd place|
|5||Korea||FIBA Asia 3rd place|
|6||Australia||FIBA Oceania champion|
|7||New Zealand||FIBA Oceania 2nd place|
|8||Angola||FIBA Africa champion|
|9||Egypt||FIBA Africa 2nd place|
|10||Senegal||FIBA Africa 3rd place|
|11||Mexico||FIBA Americas champion|
|12||Puerto Rico||FIBA Americas second place|
|13||Argentina||FIBA Americas third place|
|14||Dominican Republic||FIBA Americas fourth place|
|17||Croatia||Eurobasket 3rd/4th place|
|18||Slovenia||Eurobasket 5th/6th place|
|19||Ukraine||Eurobasket 5th/6th place|
|20||Serbia/Italy winner||Eurobasket 7th place|